The West Virginia University men’s soccer team continues postseason action by traveling to Akron, Ohio, for the Mid-American Conference Championship Semifinals on Friday, Nov. 15, against Western Michigan. Kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field is set for 3 p.m. ET.
“Western Michigan is always a tough opponent, so it’ll certainly be a big challenge for us,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We’ve been able to refocus ourselves over the last few days and are really looking forward to competing for a spot in the championship.”
Friday’s match marks the second meeting between the No. 6-seed Mountaineers (7-8-2) and No. 2-seed Broncos (11-5-2) this season. WMU earned a 3-1 win over WVU on Oct. 13, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.
In the conference opener for both schools, the Broncos took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute, before adding on in the 60th. Then, freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera scored for the Mountaineers in the 84th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. However, WMU answered with its third goal of the match to claim the road victory.
The Broncos outshot WVU, 10-6, including 8-5 in shots on goal. Western Michigan also held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.
In all, West Virginia and Western Michigan have met nine times, with the Broncos leading the series, 4-3-2. Friday’s match marks the first neutral-site matchup in series history.
Last time out, the Mountaineers earned a 1-0 win over No. 3-seeded SIU Edwardsville on Nov. 12, in the MAC Quarterfinals, at Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Illinois. Robles Grajera scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 43rd minute to give WVU the lead just before halftime. Sophomore forward Tony Pineda was credited with the assist on the tally.
From there, West Virginia went on to earn its fifth shutout of the season, including its second in the last three matches. Junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made three saves in the win.
SIUE held a 13-9 advantage in shots, but the Mountaineers earned a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. With the win, WVU punched its ticket to Friday’s semifinal match.
Robles Grajera’s seven goals are good for a tie for No. 2 in the MAC. Senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino is tied for No. 6 in the league in goals, with six. Additionally, senior defender Albert Andres-Llop and freshman midfielder Luke McCormick lead the Mountaineers in assists, with five apiece, which is tied for No. 5 in the MAC.
In goal, Tekesky is tied for the MAC lead with five shutouts, and he sits No. 4 in the conference with 51 saves on the year.
The Mountaineers are 27-25-6 all-time in neutral-site contests. The squad is 5-0 when scoring first this season, as well as 5-1 when scoring multiple goals in a match.
Western Michigan is led by seventh-year coach Chad Wiseman, who holds a 76-41-19 mark with the Broncos. WMU is coming off a 1-1 (2OT) draw to SIUE on Nov. 9, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The result was enough to clinch the No. 2 seed in the MAC Championship and bye into the semifinals.
As a team, the Broncos lead the MAC and rank No. 37 nationally in goals, with 34. Four players have tallied 12 or more points on the year, led by freshman midfielder Charlie Sharp, who paces the team with 16 points (7G, 2A).
WMU has conceded 18 goals this season, the second-fewest in the MAC. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Isaac Walker has played in 16 contests, earning 46 saves.
The winner of Friday’s semifinal match will advance to the MAC Championship Game on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. ET. No. 1-seed and tournament host Akron and No. 4-seed Bowling Green will meet in the other semifinal contest.
Additional information on the 2019 MAC Men’s Soccer Championship, including the event’s schedule, bracket, ticket and live stream information and more, can be found at GetSomeMACtion.com or the conference’s championship headquarters.